|The girls enjoying an early-morning lesson about winter.|
My oldest daughter would start Kindergarten this fall if we decided to put her in public school. And yes, the title of this post, "My Top 5 Fears of Homeschooling," suggests that there are more than five.... I plan on homeschooling her, but I probably won't feel 100% sure of that decision until the first day of Kindergarten starts and I keep her at home with me. So, yes, there are probably many, many fears about homeschooling that I could start rambling about, but I will condense them down to a basic five. I don't think I'm alone in these fears, nor do I think they are reason enough for me to opt in to the public school system. Stay tuned, because my next post will be about the reasons I'm drawn to homeschooling. That's right - all the good stuff. :)
1. I am doing "it" wrong.
What parent doesn't question their decisions regarding their children? It starts before they are even born. What name should I give them? Should I breastfeed or bottle-feed? Should I make my own baby food? Should I cloth diaper? Should I let them cry or wear them in a sling all day long?
For me, there is always this thought lingering in the back of my mind that I "only have one chance." One chance to do things the right way for my children before they are grown and I've screwed them up. Any moment of clarity, however, quickly dissolves such a silly notion. If I feel like I could make a better choice, a better choice can be made. If homeschooling suddenly sucks, I can put my daughter in school the very next day. Nothing is final.
2. My children might be... weird.
It's a homeschooling mom's most-asked question: "What about socialization?" Well, of course I worry about my kids being "socialized!" But if you do just a tiny bit of reading, it appears as though the ol' socialization scare-tactic is out of date. There are so many co-ops, free classes, and community groups around these days that you would literally have to keep your kid in a bubble if you wanted to limit their exposure to other kids.
Surely with yoga, Japanese class, ballet, and story-time, my kids will be alright. I certainly don't see any social problems thus far - they are some of the most social, friendly, and well-mannered kids I know (okay... I might be a bit biased....). And, if they aren't up-to-date on all the latest classroom trends - like silly bandz, Hannah Montana, or LaLaLoopsy - I can't say I'll be really disappointed.
3. They will fall behind.
What if my child doesn't know all their multiplication tables by the end of 2nd grade? What if she doesn't know the days of the week in the right order yet? What if I put her in school and she doesn't test as well as the other kids?
It's VERY easy to get consumed by what your child should learn and when they should learn it. But, what I am trying to accomplish with my girls' educations? That they score well? Or that they love learning, think outside-the-box, and know how to find answers when there is something they don't know? I am also a firm believer that kids learn best when they WANT to learn, not when some system determines what and when they should learn.
4. I won't be able to teach well.
I suck at math. And I'm not that great at science either. Does that disqualify me from teaching my own child? I don't think so, but I won't lie. It makes me nervous to think about not providing her with a good foundation in those subjects. However, thanks to technology, there are array of resources available to help. I don't have to go it alone. I've already been using some online resources to introduce topics to the girls and I then supplement and delve in further. In many ways, I'm re-learning some things! Seeking out these other resources helps me feel confident that they are learning concepts in a concise and age-appropriate way, which I can then build on based on their comprehension.
5. I am depriving them of some wonderful childhood school memories.
When I was a little girl, I remember being so excited to pick out a new backpack. On the first day of school, I would always be wearing new clothes and posing with my backpack for a "First Day of ____" picture on the front porch. My kids won't have quite the same experience. They won't have colorful classrooms, desks, or lunchroom drama stories to bring home. I enjoyed all those things... am I an awful parent for not giving those same experiences to my kids?
This is another one of those times where I have to flip things around. No, they aren't having the same experiences... but who says the experiences they ARE having aren't good in their own right? We have wonderful days together, they go to classes, they play together for hours, we go to museums, we explore Japan.... Won't those be great memories too?
Fear. It often holds us back from the realm of pure potentiality, but it also has the ability to guide us in the right direction if we figure out what exactly we're afraid of.
Luckily for me, my fears of homeschooling are outweighed by all the things I love about it. In my next post, I'll write about what has drawn me to homeschooling - the reasons that really compel me to take this path. Stay tuned!